Passenger satisfaction with the UK's railways has fallen to a 10-year low, a new survey out today has found.
Independent watchdog Transport Focus warned that overall satisfaction with services stood at 79 per cent, the lowest since 2008, according to its latest national passenger survey of 25,000 passengers.
More than one in five passengers were unhappy with the services they were receiving, the watchdog said.
Last year was marked by serious disruption after a timetable upgrade devised by the train companies and Network Rail went badly wrong, leading to widespread delays, cancellations and overcrowding.
Punctuality also dropped by 2.5 per cent in the UK, as signal failures, extreme weather and management issues led to more late-running trains for long-suffering commuters, according to recent statistics by the rail regulator.
Certain routes, including on South Western Railway, have been dogged by strikes, which has also contributed to the downturn in passenger satisfaction.
The problems prompted the government to launch an independent review led by former British Airways chief executive into the railways, with a particular focus on the franchise model.
Anthony Smith, chief executive of the independent watchdog Transport Focus, said: “Our latest survey confirms passenger satisfaction has fallen to a 10-year low. Government and the industry must continue to focus on performance. In the longer term the government’s rail review must bring about fundamental change.
“Passenger irritation at poor performance erodes their most basic trust in the industry. Passenger frustration at continual fare increases saps confidence in the system to reform itself. Passenger anger during the summer timetable crisis was palpable.
“A better value for money and more reliable railway must arrive soon for passengers.”
The survey shows that while some companies, such as Heathrow Express and Chiltern Railways, have improved, others such as Great Northern, Northern, TransPennine Express, Greater Anglia, Thameslink, ScotRail and London North Eastern Railway have got worse.
Southern and Thameslink were deemed to be the worst operators for dealing with delays, scoring a rating of 29 per cent.
Just 31 per cent of commuters surveyed thought their journey offered them value for money. Nationally, 46 per cent of journeys were rated as satisfactory in terms of value for money, which remains unchanged from 2008.
Jacqueline Starr, managing director of customer experience at the Rail Delivery Group, which represents the rail industry, said: “Punctuality is the bedrock of satisfaction for our customers and at the moment in too many places, we are not getting it right. Working together, we are investing billions of pounds in a long-term plan to rebuild key parts of the network to improve punctuality while putting thousands of new and refurbished carriages on track to make journeys more comfortable.
“In parallel we are pushing for more fundamental reform to fix the railway for the future, including developing proposals for regulatory change to make the fares system easier, and engaging fully with the government’s independent review of how the whole railway is bolted together.”